Detroit Tigers: MLB Commissioner threatens to shutdown season

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Just when we are starting to be captivated by a surprisingly hot start to the season from the Detroit Tigers, it may be all for not after Major League Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s latest message.

The Detroit Tigers enter tonight’s contest with the Cincinnati Reds, a game above .500 at 4-3 and leading the majors in team home runs.  Yes, the Tigers team that finished second last in team home runs are leading the league with the longball on the heels of signing a handful of veteran players with the ability to comfortably hit double-digit home runs despite the shortened season.  Players like Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron make Tigers baseball tolerable again.

It may be all for not though, as earlier today reports leaked that Major League Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred has threatened to shutdown the season just a week after it started if the players don’t do a better job handling the COVID-19 situation.

Two things stand out here.

Manfred decided that MLB would not use the same ‘bubble’ format that the NBA or the NHL.  The NBA season is back underway, and while they have far less overall players, they don’t have one single positive case yet in their Orlando bubble setup.  Blaming the players is one thing, but the league also needs to look in the mirror and accept the results from a flawed re-start plan.

The NHL decided with the number of players taking part in their resumed season; they needed two hub cities to split the players up.  The league decided to use two bubbles, and so far, it’s worked.  Not only did NHL commissioner Gary Bettman elected to split the 24 teams into two separate cities, but he also moved them all to Canada.  Canada has done a tremendous job suppressing the virus, proving the league with a safer option.  The two hub cities are Toronto and Edmonton.

According to ESPN insider Jeff Passan, this weekend will be critical moving forward for the MLB;

The Miami Marlins have a whopping 20 positive COVID-19 cases, with no end in sight as the number continues to grow on a daily basis.  The league also shut down the St. Louis Cardinals after a player tested positive.

The league and the players association just approved seven-inning doubleheaders as a way to make up the lost games but in such a tight schedule, in such a short window of time to get the games played, but how will a team like Miami be able to make up all these games?  They certainly won’t play doubleheaders every night.

Also, I can’t help but wonder with a large number of daily cases and COVID-19 related deaths in the state of Florida, why did the league allow Miami and Tampa Bay to remain there to start the season?  There are no fans in the seats, why aren’t those two franchises playing in a safer environment?  The NBA has their bubble in Orlando but don’t forget it’s a bubble.

We’ve seen unconfirmed reports mentioning Miami players spent a night on the town on the road in Atlanta just before the start of the season.  That, along with the number of players and personnel seen during the broadcasts not wearing a mask, not social distancing in the dugout, and spitting while they step out of the box, definitely prompted this message from Manfred.

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As previously mentioned, I don’t feel Manfred deserves a free pass. Still, the players can undoubtedly tighten up their actions and follow the protocol trying to avoid one another better than they have through the first week of baseball.  Just after getting Detroit Tigers baseball back after a long delay, it will hurt to lose it just a week later, especially since the Detroit Tigers in 2020 look much better than the product we saw in 2019.